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Hands-on review: Updated: Mac Pro
3:00 am | December 21, 2013

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Hands-on review: Updated: Mac Pro

NOTE: We’ll be updating this article with more detail once we’ve had a serious play with the Mac Pro.

Apple’s unique cylindrical Mac Pro has attracted all sorts of attention for both its distinctive cylindrical design and eye-popping specs.

The Mac Pro release date has been and gone, though if you order one now you won’t get it until well into 2014.

We thought it looked like a Mac that Darth Vader might have used – if he was a multimedia professional rather than a murderous Sith. We’re not sure if the new Mac Pro can use the force, but the 9.9-inch tall Apple tower certainly offers plenty of power.

Starting at £2,499 ($2,999, AU$3,999) for the base configuration, that internal grunt doesn’t come cheap. That base model gives you a 3.7GHz quad-core Xeon processor, dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs with 2GB of VRAM each, 12GB of memory and a 256GB flash storage.

But if that doesn’t get your thermal core excited, you can opt for the 2.5GHz six-core Intel Xeon E5 processor which will also give you two AMD FirePro D500 GPUs, each with 3GB of VRAM. That will cost you £3,299 ($3,999, AU$5,299) though.

Mac Pro 2013

If you’re willing to splash out a little more, you can upgrade to an 8-core or 12-core processor, bump up the memory to 64GB or take up the flash storage to 1TB.

Our friends and collegues at MacFormat did this trendy unboxing video of the new Mac after we got it in the office.

YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKUpU9UeUTk

New Mac Pro design

Mac Pro 2013

Taking the shape of a big black cylinder that’s been ruthlessly compared to a 9.9-inch tall bin in some circles, the New Mac Pro is either something of an oddity or a triumph in concise design depending on your view.

It looks a lot shinier than in pictures when viewed in the metallic flesh, particularly with light bouncing off it from a number of angles.

That doesn’t mean it looks better though: in fact, we thought it looked less impressive than the slick images of it we’ve seen of it so far. But don’t get us wrong – it is still pretty cool.

Mac Pro 2013

New Mac Pro specs

Apple’s Mac Pro is offered with between 256GB and 1TB internal storage. It’s powered by an Intel Xeon E5 processor that ranges from a quad-core version to a huge 12-core configuration spec.

That’s coupled with a pair of AMD FirePro workstation-class GPUs, so any graphical barriers previously posing a problem should be smashed down with ease by this silent-but-deadly desktop.

We clicked and poked our way around the version of OS X loaded on our demo model and, perhaps unsurprisingly, failed to detect even slight lag when opening and closing apps.

There’s only so much we could do with our brief time with the machine, and we’re salivating at the chops over putting the Mac Pro through our grueling benchmarking regime, so watch this space.

Mac Pro 2013

New Mac Pro noise

We were impressed at just how quiet the new Mac Pro is. Apple previously revealed that its near-silent nature is owed to the fact it’s been designed around a single large fan that sucks air upwards through a bottom vent to absorb heat and carry it out of the top.

If you’re looking for an accurate comparison, the ultra quiet hum of a Mac Mini isn’t far off, which makes the new Mac Pro one of the quietest desktops we’ve come across.

Mac Pro 2013

New Mac Pro ports and connectivity

The new Mac Pro has a number of ports on the rear of its base to let multimedia professionals hook up a number of additional devices.

We spotted six Thunderbolt 2 ports complete with the super-fast connectivity standard’s symbol alongside, which sits next to four USB 3.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports and one HDMI 1.4 port.

Apple’s overhauled Mac Pro will be available to buy at some point in December, so if you want feel the full force of Apple’s powerful flagship desktop machine, you might want to start saving up in – according to our calculations – around five minutes’ time.

Mac Pro 2013

Early verdict

If you’re thinking this Mac is too expensive, you’re thinking about it in the wrong way. It’s a completely different proposition than an iMac or Mac mini. This is a high end workstation for serious power computing and applications such as media processing and editng. It’s one of the reasons why the future of the Mac is a safe one. It’s superbly designed and has all the panache you expect from Apple. What a machine.

Images by PCFormat’s Dave James.

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